Verbal/Symbolic Aggression in Couples: Incidence Rates and Relationships to Personal Characteristics

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This paper describes the incidence, chronicity, and correlates of verbal/symbolic aggression be- tween partners in a nationally representative sam- ple of 5,232 American couples. Verbal/symbolic aggression was measured by the Conflict Tactics Scales. It was found that men and women engage in about equal amounts of verbal/symbolic ag- gression against their partners. The probability of frequent verbal/symbolic aggression against a partner tends to decrease with age and the number of children in the family, and to increase with the occurrence of alcohol abuse and the use of other drugs. Socioeconomic status and race were not found to be related to verbal aggression. Verbal aggression is part of a pattern of abusive and problematic interpersonal relationships within the family that has antecedents similar to those of physical aggression.

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Journal of Marriage and Family

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